Sequestion threatens federal export promotion funds

Some of the federal programs threatened by looming budget cuts are the Foreign Market Development program and Market Access Program. Every dollar invested in trade promotion, many of which are matched by agriculture export groups, returns $35, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The programs also create jobs and farm income, said Vilsack.

“We were very fortunate to work, after several years, to get Japan to open up their market a bit more for beef, the Korean Free Trade Agreement is seeing interest in American beef again, so we see good things on the horizon,” said Vilsack, in an interview with a farm broadcaster Thursday in Austin, Texas. “The Mexicans have also reduced their limitations on our beef sales so we’re helping to create additional market opportunity.”

USDA is concerned about sequestration, which is scheduled to take effect by March 1st if there’s no action by Congress, said Vilsack.

“We don’t want to do this,” he said. “The preference would be for Congress to do its job and come up with a long-term deficit reduction program and not have these across-the-board-every-agency-gets-hit-five-percent; it’s a very poor way to do business.”

Time and flexibility will allow budget cuts to be effectively handled, said the secretary, however having to cut every budget item by the same amount restricts what can be done.

Thank you, farm broadcaster Tony St. James of Floydata, Texas.

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